What are you bringing home from work?

What have you been bringing home from work?

At the end of every week, my wife and I usually spend time together recapping the current week and planning logistics for the next. 

During one such conversation years ago, I told my wife that I was going to grab dinner and play cards with some friends the following week, and that the group included my boss.

“Are you serious? Why would you want to spend time with him?” She remarked. 

I was dumbfounded. The person she was referencing was the best boss I’ve ever had. He led with radical candor, and to this day I have modeled my leadership after how he managed and mentored me. We didn’t always agree, but he led with care, compassion, and a directness that pushed me to grow. When we met we’d connect on life, he’d encourage me and call out the good he’s seen in me and my work, and he’d give me constructive feedback on specific situations he personally witnessed. He was someone I could be fully transparent with because I knew he cared about me personally beyond the work. 

“You never have positive things to say about him.” She continued.

What I quickly realized was that I was only bringing the “bad” home. A decision I disagreed with, something I would have done differently or didn’t understand, or a constraint, most likely outside of his control, that had been placed on my team. I loved my job and this leader, but I had tainted my wife’s view of him because I was only bringing home the negative. 

I think it’s natural. Bad memories tend to stay with us longer. Negative emotions force us to do more thinking. Praise is fleeting. It’s why in any postmortem or SWOT we have to try harder to focus on and celebrate what went right and what’s working instead of jumping ahead to what didn’t work or needs to be fixed.

I’ve course corrected with my wife since that moment to make sure I’m sharing a more holistic view of my work experiences and relationships. I make sure I share the positives, and am clear when I share negatives. Overall it’s made work conversations with my wife more enjoyable and positive, and even allows for moments of levity when discussing negatives.

What have you been bringing home from work? How can you be more intentional about what you carry home?